Recently, I was walking through 30th Street Station in Center City when a sweaty woman pushed her way into my path and told me to “put the brakes on.” Surprisingly, the woman was actually a well-intentioned activist campaigning on behalf of the large population of homeless people in Philly–a noble cause. But her confrontational tactics were clearly detracting from her worthy message. Luckily, the students who attended Issues in Action, a workshop facilitated yesterday by Caila Heyison ’11, will never make these kinds of mistakes.
Heyison, who was a political science major, has plenty of experience with activism, particularly in the realm of homelessness outreach. As a student, she was heavily involved in Haverford’s volunteer organization, Eighth Dimension, and eventually even became the co-head of the prominent campus club. This year she is continuing her work in social justice and community action as one of six alums working as Haverford House fellows. Fellows spend the year following graduation working four days per week with non-profit organizations in the region and dedicate their fifth workday to projects that serve to engage the College with local groups and people devoted to creating a more socially just, healthy and vibrant community.
Despite Heyison’s expertise, student discussion, instead of a lecture, was the centerpiece of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-sponsored workshop. In fact, the afternoon began with Heyison asking the diverse group of students to write on a white board all the words or phrases they associated with activism. The aim, of course, was to break away from stereotypes people might have about “activism.”
With these types of helpful workshops, Haverford and the CPGC look to continue their longstanding commitment to spreading social justice around the world.
– Matthew Fernandez ’14
All photos by Debbie Leter ’15